Wednesday, February 26, 2014

iTunes: Still MORE Crap

As I posted on February 7, 2014, iTunes continues to earn its reputation as the crappiest software on the face of the earth.

The error message I got at boot-up refused to go away even when I uninstalled and re-installed iTunes. Twice. So I had to continue wasting my time trying to get rid of this piece of crap. I decided that I needed to rid my Windows 7 office machine of all Apple software and I found this helpful post:

"Troubleshooting issues with iTunes for Windows updates"

I knew that Apple had seriously crapped up my system when I reluctantly installed the detestable iTunes and the once-useful-but-not-really-any-more QuickTime, but I didn't realize the extent of its craposity until I read that to get rid of Apple crapware I had to:

"Remove all of these items in the following order:

  • iTunes
  • Apple Software Update
  • Apple Mobile Device Support (see note 1 below)
  • iCloud (if present)
  • MobileMe (if present) (see note 2 below)
  • Bonjour
  • Apple Application Support"
Getting rid of Apple Mobile Device Support is particularly difficult. I could not get remove it through Control Panel and, so far, I haven't thought it worth the trouble to try all the following trouble-shooting, as described by the above article:
Some users have found that Apple Mobile Device Support does not want to uninstall. Running a repair session from add/remove programs or the programs and features control panel, then trying to uninstall again may work around this issue. Some users have successfully completed the reinstallation of iTunes without removing this component. Alternatively the Microsoft Program Install and Uninstall Utility (MS Installer "Fixit") may help. Third-party AirPrint support services may also prevent Bonjour from being removed. If so these should be uninstalled first. It may also help to temporarily disable anti-virus software and/or the Windows User Account Control feature (Turn UAC on/off) while repairing software. See also HT3960: iTunes for Windows: Background processes installed on Windows XP, Vista, and 7 for a list of processes that might need to be halted.
All this? Just to remove an app?

At this point, I've gotten all the Apple crapware off my computer, with the exception of the pesky Apple Mobile Device Support. My plan is to avoid re-installing any of it as long as I can. Since I don't sync an iPad/iPod to this machine, which resides in my office, I can't think of a reason to have iTunes on it. And I can't remember the last time I used QuickTime to play a movie. For video playback, there's always the far superior VLC Media Player.

Can I live a blissfully Apple-free existence on this computer? Time will tell.


Friday, February 07, 2014

iTunes: The Crap Just Keeps A-comin'!

Oh, iTunes! Your crappiness knows no bounds!

First, a recent attempt to update you failed. Now, EVERY time I boot my computer I get this error message about APSDaemon failing. A quick Googling reveals that MANY folks are afflicted with this error.


Do I bother trying to troubleshoot this, or do I just uninstall iTunes on this computer--on which I seldom use iTunes anyway because my iPad and iPod are synced to another computer and iTunes does not like us to share accounts among computers.

If computer software could be a dickhead, iTunes would be a dickhead.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Crappy DoubleTwist Installation

Holy crap, DoubleTwist!

Not only do you encourage users to install a useless toolbar and a video game (Angry Birds), but you make your installation screen look as if there's no way to avoid that crap!

As you can see in the screen shot below, the "Custom Installation (Advanced)" choice, which is the only way to get out of the crappy toolbar, appears to be greyed out!



Oh, my, but that's a crappy trick!
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Friday, May 10, 2013

What's Up with This Crap, Blogger?

Today, whenever I try to do anything on Blogger, I get this error message:

We're sorry, but we were unable to complete your request.
When reporting this error to Blogger Support or on the Blogger Help Group, please:
Describe what you were doing when you got this error.
Provide the following error code.
bX-kn464r

Weird thing is, whatever I was trying to do (start a new post, publish a post) WORKS, despite the error message.

Crappy Training Software

At the end of my crappy, mandatory, 90-minute, obviously lawyer-induced, the University-covering-its-ass training course in (1) reporting child abuse (how many younger-than-18 students do I encounter?) and (2) handling hazardous materials (which I never do), there was a box for comments. So I wrote:

"Very poorly designed training course. Should NOT rely on browser pop-ups and should NOT be written in Java (a computer language with numerous security holes)."

(The training platform was so poorly implemented that the College tech support had to configure special computers in a lab for faculty and staff to use. Most folks could not get it to run on their own computers.)

Today I got a response from Skillsoft customer support that said, "Thank you for sending in feedback. We appreciate it when subscribers take the time to tell us how they are finding the service. Our courses are designed to work on as many configurations as possible."

Ah ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.

Crappy WordPress Theme: DirectoryPress

What do you think of a premium (i.e., not free) WordPress theme that is buggy and that requires its tech support to fix and said tech support claims the only way they can fix it is if you give them FTP access to your server?

Sure. Emailing them the FTP password to your system. What could possible go wrong with that?

Sigh. DirectoryPress, I think it may be time that ScreenSite.org parts with you and your crappy-software ways.

When I told DirectoryPress' tech support that our University-based server was locked down and does not permit FTP access from off-campus they said, essentially: sorry, pal, you're on your own.

This issue arose when I discovered a security hole in their software that led to 455 injections of spam into our system. I contacted them for help and they said: oh yeah, that's version 6; you should upgrade to version 7. And when I did try to upgrade to version 7, it borked my entire site.

Oh, and their version upgrade requires you to export all the page/post data out of WordPress, then wipe it clean, and import your data after the upgrade.

Urgh!

I've been disappointed with DirectoryPress in the past as it seems rather hacked-together. It's part of a suite of WordPress themes for creating sites for classified ads, auctions, real estate, etc. I suspect that the directory theme is the poor relation in this suite, that they don't give it as much attention as the others. And there are aspects of DirectoryPress that are unnecessary or, indeed, don't make sense unless you're trying to sell something through your site.

So. I'm taking suggestions for a better system for a link directory. What do you say, Hive Mind?

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Crappy WiFi at the University of Alabama

From the "In Order to Serve You Better, We Are Now Going to Fuck You Over" file:

The University of Alabama's Office of Information Technology recently informed me that
The Office of Information Technology is pleased to announce a new secure wireless network for faculty and staff. In order to connect to UA-WPA2, employees will need to install XpressConnect on their devices by visiting http://wpa2setup.ua.edu/CloudPath. As part of the installation process, users will be required to enter their myBama ID and password. UA-WPA2 provides secure wireless communications through the use of WPA2 Enterprise and will replace the pre-shared key SSID rolled out as an interim solution last year. Starting in October 2012, UA-WPA2 will replace UA Public Wireless for all faculty and staff. For instructions on installing UA-WPA2′s XpressConnect client, visit http://oit.ua.edu/oit/services/wi-fi-protected-access-wpa.
When I first read this, I thought, So, instead of letting us connect to wifi as we normally do--a process that takes, like, two minutes--we are now going to be required to install a separate app and jump through several hoops.

This is going to be a mess.

And now that mess is here. I tried to install XpressConnect and access the new wifi this afternoon--using the instructions posted online. No luck.

Sent a note to the help desk and a very pleasant woman called me immediately to assist me. After 45 minutes on the phone with her, we still hadn't solved the problem. And she wanted me to walk across campus to the Help Desk to troubleshoot it there. I said no thank you. This (futile) process has already wasted enough of my day.

So much for an improved wifi system. I wonder if OIT will feel so "pleased" about it in January when all faculty and staff are required to convert to the new system and they run into issues like I did.

Brother.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Cox Communication: Incompetent Crap or Devious Crap?

Here's yet another reason why the cable-TV industry is one of the most detested in America.

A month ago I made a change to my parents' Cox service--downgrading the package they had chosen and  eliminating the worthless in-home wiring "protection." I hand delivered their set-top box to a Cox store and thought that was the end of it.

But no. On the next bill, issued two weeks later, we were still being charged for the features I thought I removed.

So, I had to call Cox again and ask about it. "Oh, yes," the customer service rep said, "I see you have a work order for these changes, dated a month ago. But it wasn't finalized." What does that mean, I asked. "Well, it's supposed to happen automatically when you return equipment, but sometimes it doesn't."

How many folks get trapped by something like this as they don't scrutinize their bill each and every month?

Is this devious or incompetent crap? I suspect the former.


Thursday, August 30, 2012

Adobe Flash Tries to Pull Some Crap


Y'know what really burns my bacon? When a software update tries to scam you into INSTALLING some other piece of crap.

Looking at you, Adobe Flash Player, and your DEFAULT setting of installing McAfee Security Scan Plus.

And the thing is, Flash has few friends these days and is a dying, decaying platform. So why is Adobe irritating and alienating the few users Flash has left by trying to pull crap like this?

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Crappy, Misleading Marketing by Pioneer Electronics: The AVIC-X940BT

I guess I should be accustomed to the marketing of electronics products being full of crap, but it's still disappointing when you get tripped up by it when purchasing an expensive device that is virtually unreturnable. Here is my story of my latest encounter with crappy, misleading marketing:

I enjoy Pandora radio and I'd worked out a clunky system for getting it to play through my car stereo. It involved a gizmo plugged in to my car's aux input and the manual control of Pandora on my Droid Incredible 2 phone. So, when I had a little extra cash from a textbook royalty check, I thought I'd splurge on a car receiver that handled Pandora without the extra gizmo. And then my tech fever escalated and I decided to go for a unit that also incorporated GPS and phone features.

This drew me to the Pioneer AVIC-X940BT (who names these things? former rocket scientists?), which seemed to have everything I needed and, the Mobile Electronics salesman told me, would display Pandora data and allow me to control Pandora right through the device's interface--connecting to my phone via Bluetooth.

But I was worried about compatibility so I checked Pioneer's Website, where it says,
Compatible with Apple iOS, as well as Android devices that support the Bluetooth Serial Port Profile (SPP). Simply download the free Pandora Radio app to your iPhone or Android device and connect to the AVIC-X940BT and take your music to the next level.
The Droid Incredible 2 does indeed support Bluetooth Serial Port Profile so I thought I was all set.
 
I poked around everywhere I could on the Pioneer Website, but nowhere could I find a specific list of compatible devices. All I found were displays like the one below that seem to confirm compatibility with Android.

And so I bit. I paid too much money to have the unit installed by Mobile Electronics.
Everything seemed to be fine with pairing my phone, via Bluetooth, with the AVIC-X940BT until I tried to get Pandora to work. Then I began encountering error messages about the inability to connect:
Bluetooth connection is disconnected. Press "Connect" to connect.
This message appeared while I was already connected. I scoured the PDF manual (of course they don't give you a real paper manual anymore) for an answer.When I found the following fine print ("Compatibility with all Android devices is not guaranteed.") buried in the 240-page manual, I suspected I was in trouble.

Then I went back to Mobile Electronics to ask about it. An installer dude checked it out and declared that it wasn't supposed to work with Pandora. That Pandora only works via a wired connection to an iPhone.
I knew that wasn't right, but the installer dude couldn't be convinced otherwise. So I called Pioneer's tech support--after Googling around turned up no solid info. There I had it confirmed: the AVIC-X940BT is not compatible with the Droid Incredible 2--an Android 2.2+ phone that's less than a year old and supports Bluetooth SPP. In fact, the tech guy tried to replicate my situation using his own Droid phone and his model didn't work either. He found a list that states that only 12 specific Android phones work with Pandora and this Pioneer unit.
Sigh.
I told the guy to please tell his supervisor that I am extremely disappointed about this and that the marketing of the AVIC-X940BT as compatible with Android phones supporting Bluetooth SPP is very misleading and should be corrected. The tech guy said he would "capture that feedback" and pass it along.
Sigh.
Ah well, at least this unit does, like, 70% of what I bought it for. And, who knows, maybe a firmware update will solve my problem? Or maybe my next smartphone will be one of the compatible ones.
But still it's sad to have the crappiness of electronics marketing confirmed. Again.

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Update 3:50, Thursday:

Well, get this. In his NY Times column today, David Pogue is dealing with the same Pandora issues as me--although in his Toyota Prius! See "Pogue's Posts: The Prius V and Its Entune System", in the May 3 NY Times. Turns out that Pandora in the Prius does not work wirelessly with the iPhone, but does with Android! 
But probably not the Droid Incredible 2, I'd wager.